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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bernard Buffet’s Hermetic Studio

“You shouldn’t talk too much in front of a painting. It’s alive and, like a child,

the slightest slip might wound it!”

–Bernard Buffet

MIR Gallery, an online division of MIR Appraisal Services, boasts in its collection a limited edition print, etching on paper, by renowned artist Bernard Buffet.

Bernard Buffet Robert Bonne, Annee '51, MIR Gallery

Here we witness vital characteristics of Buffet’s work: Expressionist manner; the darkly outlined, solitary, elongated figure; deep, earthy colors.

Buffet, an etcher, painter, lithographer, designer and sculptor, focused his attention primarily upon portraits, still lifes, landscapes and religious scenes.

Maurice Druon comments upon Buffet’s artistic practice and attitude; ““Excess marks all his enterprises; it is as if the tour de force was a habit with him, work the necessity of every instant, and immoderation his dimension.”

Annabel and Bernard Buffet

It is a delight to behold the images of an artist at work in his studio; Buffet’s late wife, Annabel, co-authored a book entitled Bernard Buffet: The Secret Studio. Here we witness, in the words of Druon, “His colors… distributed in heaped fascines of new paint-brushes, while the used accumulate in a corner like bayonets recovered from a victorious battlefield; the cigarette-ends fill copper pails; and the rags form variegated mounds.

These signs of work, these accessories and offals bear witness to the importance of the work itself” (Druon 27). Here in his studio we view gigantic, rather macabre, grasshoppers, chrysalis, and butterflies—his sculptural works from the show Le Museum de Bernard Buffet (“Bernard Buffet’s History Museum”), the lean, brutal, heavily outlined matadors, for which Annabel modeled (Buffet: “I view the Torero as a noble, hard-fighting animal—the king of beasts”), and an enormous crucifix he fashioned for the chapel at Chateau l’Arc (46-59, 66-88).

Buffet’s art, too, can be read through the lens of the art socio-historical; “It [his work] seemed to express the existential alienation and spiritual solitude of the post-war generation” (Chilvers Oxford). Indeed, Buffet joined L’Homme Temoin (Group of Social Realist Painters), founded by his cohort Bernard Lorjou, which “attempted to preserve something of a great and humane tradition in a world of shifting values” (Morand 187). The members celebrated figurative painting and despised the abstract in art, yet Buffet perhaps remained rather apolitical compared to his fellow members, and tended to have a more hermetic approach to art practice.

While Lorjou produced a grand work entitled The Atomic Age, Buffet remarked later, “The atomic age, the trip to the moon, and abstract art will never make a jot of difference to what I call ‘Painting’” (Buffet 100).

To schedule a visit to view the striking Buffet print, and to view Lorjou's L’Offrande, the masterpiece of fellow L’Homme Temoin member Bernard Lorjou, please do call (312) 814-8510 or email

Written and researched by Jessica Savitz

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

Principal Appraiser & Director: Farhad Radfar, ISA, AM

307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308

Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: (312) 814-8510

Works Cited:

Buffet, Annabel and Lamy, Jean-Claude. Bernard Buffet: The Secret Studio. Paris: Flammarion, 2004.

Chiver, Ian. "Buffet, Bernard" The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. University of Chicago. 3 January 2010.

Druon, Maurice. Bernard Buffet. New York: October House, 1966.

Morand, Kathleen. French Painting in the Time of Jean De Berry. “Post-War Trends in the ‘Ecole de Paris.’” New York: Pahidon, 1991.

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.